By Daniel Alcock
Gran Canaria proves once again that it is the Hawaii of the Atlantic as World Champion Jeff Hubbard wins 2010 El Fronton Invitational
On the North West coast of Gran Canaria near Galdar, 16 of the best bodyboarders in the world converged to challenge each other and Mother Nature at what was historically the first event of its kind held here in the Canary Islands; The “Wild Wild Wave El Fronton Invitational”.
This first ever International bodyboarding event at El Fronton saw for some serious action in the fierce westerly winds that essentially determined the outcome of the event and straight away there were some major upsets when ex world champions fell out in the quarter finals and local Canarians got through. The finals were going to be interesting….
…Actually, with 16 of the greatest bodyboarders of today in the competition, every heat in the contest saw upsets. One major upset was when six-time world champion, Guilherme Tamega, didn't advance. Tamega says, “That was the hardest time for me to catch a wave in my entire life. I was fighting against the wind the whole time.”
The event was beemed live from Gran Canaria to the whole world via the Redbull Webcast. The wind played a huge ingredient in the event. It was so strong that people forgot that the one thing that made El Fronton dangerous was still a main factor… the reef. After attempting a massive rollo in his quarterfinal heat, local guy Diego Cabrera ( ESP ), got his fins knocked off and ended up on the reef, struggling in the impact zone. “That was one of the heaviest wipeouts I've ever had in my bodyboarding career,” said Cabrera.
However, after his serious pounding in his first heat, Diego came into the semi finals unfazed and in style. Cabrera put together one of the best heats of the day. Great barrel riding and big moves on the bigger waves solidified him into the final with no problems.
The stage was set for the final. Jeff Hubbard, the current world champion from Hawaii , Andre Botha from South Africa , and the two Canary Island boys Yeray Martinez and Diego Cabrera were ready to face the winds and giant waves… and each other… in what was to be a thrilling thirty minute final.
Drawing first blood was the air master Jeff Hubbard. He caught a beautifully forming, big right-hander and, as he always does, surfed it perfectly, putting the rest of the field on their back legs. After that, everyone in the final had to step up and retaliate. Yeray Martinez, El Fronton specialist, struggled with his waves and although he caught plenty of them, he couldn't find those high scoring point waves despite a great barrel ride, he just couldn't get that other wave to follow up.
Yeray ended up in 4th place at the end of the event.
Andre Botha was in his own playground. “This is my favorite wave in the world,” he had said before the event and watching him all day in the competition, you could see that he was the most comfortable out there in these conditions. So important was this contest, he had spent that last two months here training for this very event. In the final, however, it was wave selection and the wind that left him out of the top two for the final.
The final was really between local Diego Cabrera and Hawaiian Jeff Hubbard. Diego surfed well and put together solid combination waves that ended up near the inside shallows of the El Fronton reef, using his local knowledge to best effect.
However, Diego's waves only scored above average and it was the perfection of Jeff's arial moves that left the current world champion with the spoils.
We caught up with an ecstatic Jeff after the event . “I'm so happy. So stoked. Can't imagine that I actually won that contest. So pretty cool. It's a dream to win a contest like this in heavy waves and in a competitor field like this. This is big as the Pipeline ( Hawaii ) victory. I want thank my wife Heather and family for all the support. Friends and God. I'm so stoked.”
1 st Jeff Hubbard.
2 nd Diego Cabrera
3 rd Andre Botha
4 th Yeray Martinez.
Many thanks to Red Bull Web TV and Maldito Rodriguez for staging this event and once again thrusting Gran Canaria into the surfing spotlight as the “ Hawaii of the Atlantic ”.